The Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) must step up and assist farmers in preparing for a possible outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
While the current outbreak has not yet been detected in the Eastern Cape, it is extremely concerning that the disease has moved outside of the traditional FMD corridor, and we need to be vigilant
I will be writing to the chairperson of the DRDAR portfolio committee, Fundile Bese, to urgently summon the Department to present its plan to address an outbreak of FMD to the committee. The Department must also give a full account of the current state of our state veterinary services, which are the frontline defence against such outbreaks.
Last week agriculture minister, Thoko Didiza, put a 21-day ban on the movement of cattle after 116 outbreaks were recorded in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, the North West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Free State.
Agriculture is one of the few sectors in the economy that has shown growth and employment opportunities, with the sale of cattle and their products accounting for 16% of the total commercial agriculture revenue.
FMD outbreaks are costing the economy jobs and billions of rands in lost revenue. The Department must step up its track and trace and immunisation strategy.
Restricting the transport of livestock cannot be a long-term solution.
The Department must also increase its assistance to emerging farmers, who do not have the same resources that commercial farmers may have, in terms of fencing to keep wild animals which could be carriers of the disease away from their livestock.
Unless the government steps up and takes the prevention of diseases such as FMD seriously, people’s livelihoods will be at risk.